• Dr Phoebe Lau

Using your values to deal with stress

"It’s not the destination, it’s the journey that matters.” You’ve probably heard this a million times, but I think it’s more relevant now than ever. We seem to be in a culture of “do more”, “be more”, and “achieve more”. 


Photo by Helena Lopes

Then what?


Then, there’s  another wheel of cheese to chase. By human nature, we are never satisfied with just the one achievement. It’s quickly eclipsed by something else.


How exhausting! 


The danger with this approach to life is that our self-value and sense of worth becomes easily entangled with our achievements. We think we’re instant “failures” or even “worthless” when we don’t reach our goals. We can even feel down, embarrassed, or ashamed when we don’t reach our goals in the manner in which we want to reach them. We lose sight of other things that are important to us or the strengths we possess. This creates further stress and disharmony within ourselves.


Instead of focusing on the destination, what if we focused on a values-driven life? Being clear about what our life-values and making decisions in-line with them, is important in managing stress and living a more satisfied life.


To clarify values, I've asked my clients the following question...


What would someone say about you at your 90th birthday? How would they describe the person that you are or the life that you’ve lived?


Photo by pranav jain

Whatever they say about the type of person you are and the way you lived your life would be a reflection of your values. Values are what you stand for in life. Knowing what our values are and living by these values, connects us to something worthwhile. The more decisions we make according to our life-values the happier and more satisfied we feel. On the other hand, the more out of line we are with what we value, the more we feel dissatisfied and stressed with our daily demands. So the first step is to call time-out and take stock of your life values. After all, we don’t want to get to 90 years old and find that we have been living out of step with our values. 


This worksheet by Dr Russ Harris (The Happiness Trap) helps you clarify:

- What are your life values?

- How close are you to living by your values? 


Once you’ve clarified your values and identified which values you’d like to enhance in your life, you can take conscious steps to change the way you spend your time, your actions, and even the way you speak to reflect the value. When we use our values as a compass for making decisions on how we want to live, we feel that the stress, demands and responsibilities along the way are more worthwhile.


If you would like more guidance in identifying and enhancing your values to manage stress, anxiety, or depression, book an appointment today.


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